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As with every industry in every country, the world of banking has been disrupted to its core in recent months. Consumers have been unable – and in some cases, unwilling – to complete banking processes in person, and the reality is that some customers will need to bank remotely for the foreseeable future. Whilst financial institutions work hard to protect their customers, their staff and their businesses, they are now also required to tackle a new type of customer journey - the ‘socially distanced’ customer journey.
What does this new socially distance customer journey look like? The simple answer is, there is no one size fits all. Recent events have, and will continue, to alter the way consumers engage with banking services, and for many it could be that remote and digital banking will become the new normal. Banking through digital channels has certainly accelerated, as many customers have either willingly, or through necessity, engaged in online and app based banking services.
For other customers and small businesses, the ability to safely fulfil their banking needs either in a branchor through a self-service channel, has remained crucially important - calling for banks to deliver these services safely and securely at a time when people need them most.
Banks have an important role to play in helping consumers navigate through this time and provide piece of mind that their finances are accessible in convenient ways. There is no doubt that consumers have, and will continue to, develop new habits during this period of change, which presents a tangible opportunity for financial service providers to evolve their offerings to deliver more flexible services.
According to a Forrester study, 26% of financial service providers acknowledged that their organisation is always in a state of digital transformation[i], even before the current pandemic. Therefore this ‘re-setting’ of the industry provides a chance for banks to continue to embrace change and take a leap ahead - showcasing their commitment to innovation and a customer-centric strategy.
But whether it is small incremental changes or organisation-wide rollouts, there are some key factors to consider:
Bank beyond the transaction
Many organisations strive to be customer focused, but it’s all too easy to become distracted with conflicting priorities and struggle to map transformation in line with customer needs at all times. With the evolving shift in power over the last few years towards consumers, it’s never been more important to deliver services beyond the transaction and remain relationship based; really adding value to a customer’s daily life.
This can only be achieved through data and continuously listening to customer needs. If they have not used your digital services at the rate you expected, why not? If there are ways your customers would like to see your physical services offered more seamlessly, what would success look like for the consumer? Transformation is a constant evolution which must be driven by the consumer.
The future could be closer than we think
Innovation has always been in the core and the DNA ofthe Middle East banking industry and many banks are taking great strides ahead in offering the latest banking services to their customers. Maintaining a future-ready outlook, and indeed embracing forward thinking strategies, has meant that banks have successfully been able to meet customer needs during lockdown. Delivering not only essential cash services, but also services such as account opening, including instant card and cheque book printing, through multi-functional kiosk technology, alongside the bank’s digital strategy.
Changing customer expectations combined with technological advancements is driving real change and bringing the future to the present; something which is particularly important for the highly mobile and tech-driven consumers in the Middle East.
Dissolving the barriers between previously siloed channels is key. Financial services have gone some way to becoming more connected, but the successful path for achieving this is an ongoing journey. Leveraging remote services can help create a more connected experience. For example utilising a two-way video at a self-service device can ensure that the customer receives a personalised service and can complete a more complex transactionin a location convenient to them.
Multi-function self-service systems can also help drive financial inclusion, helping to reach the unbanked and the more vulnerable members of society by bridging the gap between physical and digital services.
The evolution of biometrics
The pockets of innovation within the artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT space are impressive and their capabilities can only help banks deliver better and more informed services to consumers. Biometrics is also an area taking an advanced leap forward within the financial services sector.
Some biometric technology seemed somewhat of a novelty even just a few years ago, but now things like fingerprint scanners on our mobile phones are part of our daily lives. This is an area that will continue to progress and advance, and specifically with the new normal, we could see fingerprint scanners replaced withiris recognition, facial recognition andeven voice recognition as these technologies continue to be rolled out across more banking services.
Meet innovation with efficiency
Inefficient innovation is not sustainable – nor can it create the right value chain required for your business. By combining experience, rigour and a commitment to meaningful change, there is no doubt that innovation and efficiency can go hand in hand. Flexibility is key here. Implementing a model that can offer resiliency for the future and flexible options for customers now is the only way to meet the needs of highly demanding consumers.
[i] Forrester Infographic: The State of Digital Transformation In Financial Services, 2020